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Economy & Business

Legislation Incentivizes Small Businesses to Raise Minimum Wage

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  Employees working at small businesses within Pittsburgh could see a raise in their paychecks.

City Councilman Corey O’Connor introduced legislation Tuesday he hopes incentivizes small businesses (15 to 250 employees) to raise their wage for full-time employees – currently $7.25 – to $10.10 per hour.  For restaurants employees who receive tips, the legislation aims to increase their minimum wage from $2.83 to $3.93 per hour.

In return, the businesses would be able to utilize at no cost the City of Pittsburgh’s Market Based Revenue Opportunity Program (MBRO), which provides marketing opportunities on city-owned assets.

“Bus shelters are the most obvious – there’s about 200 of them in the city and three promotional sides to each one,” O’Connor said. “And then there are our senior centers, our dump trucks, our trash cans, I mean there’s a number of assets that we can RFP (request for proposal) out for promotion.”

According to the councilman, the promotions would thank businesses for raising their wages in hopes that they would receive positive publicity and not lower the pay if the program comes to an end.

He said businesses that pay more than $10.10 could use more assets.

The location of specific promotions will be defined by the Finance Director’s Office, but O’Connor said he is aiming to place the promotions near the participating businesses.

“If I’m in Greenfield, and I have my company move up to $10.10 for minimum wage per hour, I will then be located on shelters near my company,” O’Connor said. “That way you can get your client base that you’re reaching out for.”

But he said they are also open to options for those who want to spread out and post signs a few neighborhoods away from their location.

He said one business owner has reached out to him with concerns of making ends meet after raising the minimum wage, but O’Connor said that is why the program is voluntary and wants to incentivize but not force employers to do this.

“Instead of putting money in towards advertising, this is a promotional technique the city can use to help you and offset that cost that you might have spent on advertising where now you can spend it on your employees,” O’Connor said.

As of now, the program has a six-month window according to O’Connor, but they are talking about expanding it to a year or longer.  However, the businesses must prove each month that they are still paying the increase or they’ll lose the promotion.

The legislation has already received support from other city officials and even U.S Representative Mike Doyle (D – PA - 14), who in a written statement said this is something he’s been advocating at the federal level.

“The federal minimum wage hasn’t been increased in years, so minimum wage workers across the country have lost some essential purchasing power,” Doyle said. “’ve been working in Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but until that effort’s successful, this is an innovative way to give some hard-working low-paid Pittsburghers some additional much-needed purchasing power.”

O’Connor said businesses that are interested in the program should reach out to his office.

“I think that little incentive at the end of the day really builds a momentum not just for them but for the City of Pittsburgh, (it) makes us a more attractive place to live knowing that our employees throughout the city could be getting paid up to $10.10 an hour,” O’Connor said.